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Jim Harbaugh Says He Almost Left Michigan

Jim Harbaugh looks on from the sidelines.

TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 1: Head coach Jim Harbaugh of the Michigan Wolverines looks on from the sidelines during the second quarter of the Outback Bowl NCAA college football game against the South Carolina Gamecocks on January 1, 2018 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)

Jim Harbaugh could be starting a transfer at quarterback this year. Former Ole Miss star Shea Patterson is eligible to play this season, and it the likely favorite to win the job. The Michigan head coach isn't a fan of players leaving school, but apparently he almost left Michigan as a player himself.

Harbaugh was asked about the larger transfer issue, and said that he thinks, in most cases, players should "stick it out." Transfers weren't as prevalent back when he was a college player, but he gets why some may look to leave early in their careers. Harbaugh almost left Ann Arbor himself.

He spoke about his own experiences as a player while on a trip with the team to Paris. From The Detroit News:

“Yeah, I did,” he said. “As a matter of fact there was one time where I thought, ‘I don’t think it’s going to work, I don't think they like me.’ Told my dad, told him what I was going to do and he said, ‘Well, you can come home, but you're walking. I’m not coming to pick you up.’ Pretty long walk to Kalamazoo, so I decided to stay.”

Michigan is the clear beneficiary of loosening transfer rules in this case, now that Shea Patterson is eligible.

Even the most strict adherents to the old transfer rules can probably agree that his situation with Ole Miss was a bit different. The Rebels got hit with NCAA sanctions, and Hugh Freeze is no longer with the program after a personal scandal ahead of last season.

In most cases though, Harbaugh thinks there need to be more done to keep the balance in college football, even if it hurts Michigan. He presented a few thoughts on potential rules.

“There’s gotta be something,” Harbaugh said. “Maybe the school pays back the other school. Say a school like Michigan gets a player from Eastern Michigan or Central Michigan or transfers, maybe you have to pay the scholarship back or maybe it counts as an extra scholarship. Just so it doesn't become free agency in college football. That's the thing I would worry about.”

That first idea would also make things more close to professional free agency, or perhaps most accurately, club soccer's transfer system. Schools paying one another for players is definitely not the look the NCAA wants as it continues to argue that football players should be "amateurs."

There is definitely something to be said for "sticking it out" and not leaving school quickly, and I have to imagine that most players who consider a transfer do just that. It doesn't mean that, if they've thought hard about it and weighed their options, that players who transfer, especially in similar situations to what Shea Patterson just dealt with at Ole Miss.

[The Detroit News]